Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

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We've all seen them. The people on the street corner holding signs. Signs for New Condos! Big Sale! Big BIG Sale!

I have always wondered about the success of this marketing strategy and I've been curious if there is any evidence to show that it works. Or is everyone doing it, just because everyone's doing it? (I'm too lazy to actually try to look it up.)

This morning on my way to work I saw one as I hit my first stoplight. Keep in mind that it was 9:30 AM. On a Tuesday. Guy on the street corner holding an arrow-shaped sign. The sign was for a place called Jolar's. This is the name of the friendly, neighborhood strip club. Open 24 hours! Within walking distance from our house.

And I thought to myself, "Oh, that's right! I did want to go watch naked woman degrade themselves for money today. Gosh, I am so glad that guy with the sign is there or I would have completely forgotten!"

See. These signs do work.

The saddest sign holder I have ever seen was a little further down the street from our house.

It was the same man each time I happened to drive by this spot. He didn't look like the usual sign holders - a teenager with his Ipod strapped to his head or a person who looks just inches away from homelessness. He was mid-forties with dark hair and neatly dressed.

The sign he was holding was for a shoe repair place. It was a homemade sign. They had gone to the store, bought a big, white poster board and some markers and made their own sign. No hidden artistic talent emerged during this sign making process. The sign was pitiful.

I see this guy and his pathetic sign and I instantly imagine the whole story of his life. His 80-year-old father has owned the shoe repair place for 60 years and he's worked in the shop his whole life. Times have gotten tough. Who gets shoes repaired anymore? They see these other sign holders all over the place. Maybe it was his Father's idea. Maybe it was his. There's no money to buy a real sign, so they make their own.

Every afternoon, he stands in the same place, holding that sign with hope in his heart. Trying to look friendly, even as the desperation builds a little every day. The shop has been his life for so long. If they don't get more customers, if business doesn't improve - what then?

Next time I see him, I'm going to have to stop and ask what the real story is. Maybe offer to build him a website, if it is anywhere close to my made up story.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

funny you sohuld mention this. i was thinking similar thoughts the other day when i passed a human sign holder.
the shoe one is so sad.
like a sad christmas song.
thanks for the uplifter.